Andersen Elementary promotes solutions that fit
Thanks to Sarah Vinch, volunteer and head of Walk and Talk, along with Lisa Ritzman and Karen Massin, the safety issues that occurred at the Andersen Elementary School’s (AES) second through fifth grade playground years prior are a thing of the past. Although Walk and Talk was originally created as an alternative to watching a movie on days when inclement weather prevented students from having recess outside, it has become a viable solution to the limited outdoor playground space.
According to AES school nurse Jennifer Lawley, “The number of injuries on the playground has decreased along with the severity of the injuries.”
During recess, the students in the Walk and Talk program walk or run laps on a set course around the perimeter of the playground. Eight laps around the course are equal to one mile and with each goal completed, students earn one bead which they proudly display on safety pins attached to their uniform shirts. After students reach their goal, they move on to the next challenge and may eventually complete enough laps to equal the width of Guam, the height of Mount Everest or the number of miles it takes to get to the bottom of the Marianas Trench.
“This activity gives students opportunities to set goals and increase their fitness levels,” Vinch said. “The Walk and Talk program focuses on internal rewards instead of external rewards which set up students for later in life.”
The Walk and Talk program began in October 2011, and with a very low dropout rate is still going strong.
“This activity is giving the students an outlet to get out there and go for it and reach their own goals,” Vinch said.
This sentiment is reiterated in the words of the student participants as well.
“I like Walk and Talk because I get to walk with my friends and it gives kids a reason to exercise without feeling forced,” said third grader Mara Laanan.
Third grader Avery Castro also said he enjoys the program as it allows him social time with his schoolmates.
“I like Walk and Talk because it is a great opportunity for me to get out there and run and talk with my friends,” he said.
Programs like Walk and Talk encourage students to make the connection between exercise and fun, which is important if they are to adopt an active lifestyle that will continue through their adult lives.